Elon Musk reinstated a Twitter (now called X) account that shared a screenshot from a child sexual abuse video; in doing so, Musk caved to right-wing pressure, undermined the platform's “zero-tolerance” child sexual exploitation policy, and added to Twitter's toxic advertising environment.
After Twitter rebranded and replaced its logo on July 24, Musk reinstated the account of conspiracy theorist Dom Lucre, which had been suspended less than a day earlier for sharing an image from a notorious child sexual abuse film. Musk’s reinstatement of the account — amid pressure from right-wing accounts — contradicts Twitter’s “zero-tolerance” policy regarding content that sexually exploits children and his previous pledges that it was “priority #1” to rid Twitter of child sexual abuse imagery.
Multiple outlets have also reported that child sexual abuse material is still a problem on Twitter, with some pointing to Musk’s gutting of Twitter’s platform-safety teams as a contributing factor. And it is clear that little has changed on the platform since Musk brought on advertising executive Linda Yaccarino as CEO and launched a full corporate rebrand in a desperate attempt to attract advertisers back to a platform that has been hemorrhaging advertising revenue. The platform continued to serve as a bastion for anti-LGBTQ hate speech (some even coming from Musk himself) during Yaccarino’s first month as CEO, undercutting her own claims that Twitter is making progress in combating hate speech.
Despite all this, a major advertising agency has recently removed Twitter’s “high risk” status, and major advertisers continue to finance Musk’s toxic platform. According to recent advertising data from Sensor Tower, advertisers that spent the most on Twitter ads so far in July — between July 1 and 25 — are Apple Inc. ($2,432,700), FinanceBuzz.io ($1,711,200), Amazon ($1,460,600), Mondelez International ($1,456,200), and Hewlett Packard ($1,174,300).
Collectively, these advertisers earned over 2.3 billion impressions on their ads during the time frame. Meanwhile, previous Media Matters research has shown that ads from major companies have appeared next to tweets from previously banned accounts, including right-wing extremists, COVID-19 misinformers, and Holocaust deniers. And even after Musk’s rebranding, Media Matters also identified ads for major companies such as Deloitte, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and USA Today appearing on the account of a known neo-Nazi.